If you are interested in politics and have never read Theodore White’s “Making of the President” books, go out and buy them right now. I’ll wait.
(whistle “Jeopardy” theme, twiddle thumbs, check clock, check it again…)
Good. You are back.
White offered a variety of savvy views on politics, but none better than in the “1964” book when he described the fix Richard Nixon found himself in after his 1960 loss to JFK. The margin was incredibly close. Shift about 30,000 votes in the right states and Nixon wins the electoral college. Everyone blamed him for not doing what they said, and since the race was so tight all the critics were certain they were right. Rockefeller said Nixon went too conservative, Goldwater said he went too liberal, Eisenhower was never strongly behind him. The criticism continued: if only Nixon spent a little more money here, or a little more time there, or not campaigned in Alaska at the end of the campaign, then we would have won! Nixon kept his head up, ran and lost an ill-advised campaign for Governor of California in 1962, then spent six years helping GOP candidates whenever asked, and rode the IOU’s and Vietnam into the White House in 1968.
In other words, he sucked it up, worked hard, and didn’t make excuses. Yes, he developed paranoia and fear of losing with disastrous consequences, but that is another story.
It is a pity that some GOP candidates are casting stones and not sucking it up.
History repeats itself, and some are throwing similar daggers at the NRSC. Salon notes that Conrad Burns now blames the National Republican Senate Committee for this loss, saying he was crushed with outside money at the end. The article suggests the same applies to George Allen.
Only it does not. While Burns had three terms in office and Abramoff connections to run from. Allen did not. Allen just had to run a smart campaign. Instead his managers allowed him to grab defeat from the jaws of victory. “Macaca” did not torpedo him, but his reaction did. Had Allen gone to Webb HQ and apologized on the spot to Mr. Siddarth, it would have cauterized the bleeding, and would have been in line with Allen’s image as a good fellow. However, doing so would have required some humility and a willingness to admit a mistake. Instead, Allen tried to stonewall…and we know how that played out. It was not a lack of money that torpedoed Allen…it was a lack of humility.
One has to give credit to Allen. Unlike Burns, Allen has not publicly complained about money. He chose to forgo a recount, and his concession was gracious. By the same token, he still has not (to my knowledge) shown the self-awareness to recognize he undercut himself…and it makes me wonder anew about that humility thing.
The question to be considered in the months ahead is will Allen emulate Burns and revel in a self-perceived martyrdom, or will he choose a different path and keep his head up, dress his wounds, and prepare to fight again? If the latter, then he can rehabilitate his perception and in the absence of any unforseen developments emerge as a candidate for Governor in 2009 or be ready for a rematch with Webb in 2012…
…but only if he has gained humility